I've been meaning to write this blog for two months now. At first, I just didn't have the time. I wrote a quick column for our local paper and then the more I pushed it aside, the weightier it felt. I know at this juncture, there's really nothing I can do or say to persuade anyone to a particular side. Thankfully, it's not about that. But for the girl I once was and for who I am today, paying homage to the heart and soul that has resided in my skin for the past 38 years, there is something in me that needs to put these thoughts into words.
To understand why I marched is also to understand my background. I was raised a born again conservative Christian. I attended pro-life rallies as a kid, wore the 'Life Is Short Pray Hard' t-shirts in high school, cried over friends who were 'unsaved,' and worked in various positions of leadership at a Christian college. Christianity was the defining factor of my life but I always had questions. I won't go into my spiritual journey taking me out of Christianity today but if you'd like to read more about my 'coming out' as a non-believer, you can do so here. I would like to think this gives me a fair and balanced perspective with the potential to bring people together but more often than not, it really just gets me into trouble on both sides. Ha! Also, please excuse my tendency to lump all conservatives into a Christian category-- it's just my own personal history.
I need to first explain that due to my conservative Christian upbringing, marching for women's rights isn't necessarily a natural or easy choice for me. To this day, when I hear the phrase 'women's rights,' my eye twitches, and in the back of my mind I see angry, screaming feminists, bare-chested, wearing black electrical tape across their nipples and reveling in the 'murder of innocent babies.' This idea of women's rights is painful for many reasons.
One, it's programming. Like a rat and a bell, even after all of these years, that image is what my mind goes to immediately when I hear the words 'women's rights.' I am currently watching Leah Remini's show on Scientology and I can't help but see my reflection in her. Whether consciously or subconsciously through my family, the party, the media, the church, Mickey Mouse, whoever-- I was indoctrinated to believe that to be a feminist meant you had to be an angry, vulgar, man-hating and pro-abortion activist. You may have heard Rush Limbaugh refer to these women as 'feminazis.' To be truthful, I resent that false narrative of my upbringing.
One reason I marched was to take back that idea and decide for myself what it means to be a feminist. As you can see from these pictures, there are so many faces-- each with a different story. It is a detriment, on either side, to ever put anyone into a box.
My old self would have seen the 'feminazi' women in that mental picture and judged it, "You know, that's just not helping anything." But to think back on that mental picture, what was actually being said about women underneath it all? Be quiet, be pretty, be wholesome, you're opinion only matters if you express it in a way that makes me comfortable, makes my group of people comfortable, don't make mistakes, be perfect, men are the head of the household are all examples of underlying currents brought about by these kinds of sentiments.
This kind of thinking requires women to be a cookie cutter, bible belt Carrie Underwood versions of ourselves forced to live up to impossible standards. In my opinion, we learn nothing by hiding our messes or humanity. It's a gateway mentality to self righteousness and judgment. I would much rather be karaoke Carrie Underwood at the gay bar but that's just me. ;)
It potentially pits women against each other and makes any life outside the box, full of messy life choices, threatening and 'bad.' My personal teachers are the Cheryl Strayed's and Elizabeth Gilbert's of the world, women who have made big mistakes or choices not easily understood by most, and whose lives have been incredibly messy. Making choices unbecoming to society and having to sit with the consequences of those actions, to see your own reflection in the mirror everyday and live to tell the story, teaches you compassion and empathy. It allows you to sit across the table from someone and connect without judgement or condemnation, and with a full heart. It teaches you how to make better choices for next time and live an integral life.
I find that people that have made only perfect life choices have a really difficult time seeing their reflection in people different than them. I did. I've learned a hell of a lot more about myself from people that have fucked up than I have from mega-church preachers. I am so grateful for my own mistakes and appreciate the bravery it takes when others share their own. My mistakes allowed me to see myself for the first time and I continue to scratch at the surface. There is so much to learn from each other.
It also never occurred to me as a conservative Christian to ask why women were angry or to think, even worse, that they had a right to be. Everyone's journey is different and each story is worthy and legitimate. Maybe they were raped or sexually assaulted. Maybe they were beaten by an ex-husband. Maybe vulgarity and nudity, is a way to speak to these things and 'take back' what has happened to them. You don't have to understand it. No one is ever completely understood. We all get to be human.
I read an article recently about a woman who voted for Trump speaking to the vulgarity of the 'pussy hats' and signage at the March. I had to scratch my head. For many, it was a way to take Donald Trump's own vulgarity, completely accepted as 'locker room talk,' and find a way to own them in an empowering way. Interestingly, the woman in this particular story didn't mind Trump's personal vulgarity enough not to vote for him but found the women at the march offensive. She, too, has a story.
I marched because everyone has a story and all stories are worthy.
Second, and this took a long time to allow myself... But who the fuck cares? You don't have to be a loud mouth, angry, vulgar, man-hating, pro-abortion woman to be a feminist, but why is it so threatening that some are? And what is profanity anyway? In comedy school, I learned that words are funny. Resonance, tone, inflection-- from their noise to their meaning-- can create comedy. I also learned that our culture and the acceptance of these words change. In the 50's during 'I Love Lucy,' the writers weren't allowed to say the word 'pregnant' on television. Ha! Can you imagine?
Then, take a look at someone like Sarah Silverman, a comedian whose parents never mentioned that words like 'vagina' and 'dick' were taboo to most of society. She's living to the tell the story and the earth is still turning. Do we really want to live in a world were you can't say 'pregnant' on tv? Where married men and women have to sleep in separate beds? That's just a lie for everything it means to be human. Sex is what creates life! Does anyone seriously want to go back to that?
Someone is always going to push buttons and someone is always going to be offended by it. 'Cockwaffle' will probably be the stuff of nursery school rhymes 5o years from now and we'll all have a good laugh. It is a fabulous word. So is fairywiggins! See? I'm not always profane. #ItsCalledBalance.
My point is... at the end of the day, we all survive this world in different ways. As citizens of this country, people get to be whoever they want to be and live their lives accordingly. If you want to judge it, that's a choice you get to make. Granted, I am never going to tape my nipples. You're welcome. And quite frankly, I'm not even sure I understand it, but I don't need to. Go be your own human, people. It doesn't scare me or offend me. And if you need some electrical tape? It's in the cabinet in the mudroom.
Finally, as a conservative Christian, women's rights were solely synonymous with abortion. Abortion was 'women's rights.' The topic of 'women's rights' was abortion. It was the ONLY issue. This idea is troublesome because women's rights encompass so much more than abortion. To make it solely about abortion and to cause-- what I believe to be, a purposeful divide for the sake of selling a side, is not only playing into the hands of the powers that be but it also takes away the voice women could have on other topics that pertain to them.
Abortion is a very personal and sensitive discussion. Like what I've previously mentioned above, you truly can never know what is going on in someone's life. Despite the stories I had heard from friends that have had abortions, while I no longer judged it, for the longest time I just couldn't relate and it was something I wanted to understand. You shut your legs. You use condoms. You do whatever you gotta do is what I told myself.
One week, years ago, however, I found myself in a situation I couldn't have dreamed to be in. I can't go into details but for the first time in my life, I was terrified in a very real and sincere way because, as I learned, its not always about you. It was the first time I had ever, EVER been able to understand. While I don't think personally I would have made that choice (not that I should have to say that), I am actually amazingly grateful for that situation. It taught me empathy and compassion. It helped me to realize it's virtually impossible to understand if you don't experience it yourself. It made me wonder what else I had assumed my whole life.
I consider myself pro-choice. I feel that we should do everything in our power to limit the number of abortions that happen not through legislation but through responsible contraception and education. I'm always going to be of the camp-- the fewer the number of abortions, the better. However, I also feel that to have the option out there for women that want to make that choice is the right compromise for this country and that counseling afterward should be readily available. I believe in people making their own choices, not the beliefs of others making choices for people. To be pro-choice, doesn't mean you ever have to have an abortion. But to remove it completely, takes the choice away for women who do which involves zero compromise.
I marched because I believe in compromise.
The last thing that I'll say about this idea of 'women's rights' is that I was taught that women and men aren't equal, we're complimentary. I understand the sentiment because as male and female, we do have different strengths and weaknesses. However, it always felt to me that 'complimentary' was used in the church as a discussion that still allowed the man to maintain his 'head of the household' status biblically. It always irked me.
Especially after learning that women in the past, in some other cultures, were the ones worshipped and idolized. It wasn't always like this! We just grew up in an American, Christian culture where men run the household. It's the spoon we were fed. It's normal to us. Can you imagine a world run by women? We have babies. Women are fierce and strong. I totally can! I like to joke that if women just held sex from men for a year, the world would be entirely different. (Relax, it's a joke. A very true joke.)
Whatever your belief system at home, the truth of the matter is that in society, both men and women are human beings. When rights are involved, our constitution guarantees equality. That means equal pay and equal opportunities. Until I see as many women in Congress representing us or in as many positions of leadership as men, women receiving equal pay for equal work, I will always see the lack. (That doesn't even begin to speak to the lack of voice for minorities).
So 1800 words in, why did I march? Because it felt right in my soul. I wanted to march for the things that I believe in.
The only reason I gave a rip about this year's election was because of Bernie Sanders. Typically to me, politics are politics and nothing much ever changes. Bernie was the first politician in all of my years that I believed really wanted to be of serviceto everyday people. You may not agree with his ideas, but his legacy has been fighting for the working class. He also helped educate and wake up a sleeping nation that hadn't realized the grand scale to which we play puppets to corporate greed. Also, how desperately we need politicians that will be in office fighting tooth and nail to make that happen.
I marched to remember that I have a voice.
When Sanders didn't work out and Trump was still on the scene, I began watching Trump's actions. I truly thought it was a big joke and he was in on it. Given his history with democrats and movie stars, I thought for sure, it was a stunt, crossing more and more lines just to see what the American public would swallow. I remember thinking that a real presidential candidate could never make fun of a disabled person on national television and not be disqualified immediately for the presidency. But he never was... This hadto be a joke. Then the whole 'grabbing women by the pussy.' Suddenly every conservative I knew that was disdainful for my use of foul language was totally okay disregarding the word pussy AND, even worse, okay with the context enough to vote for him. "Because Hilary was that bad." (I'll save that conversation for my second novel).
I consider myself to be middle of the road politically. While I consider our current president to be a cockwaffle (or a fairywiggins based on your level of offended), I'm also not in the camp of putting Obama's presidency on a pedestal. Obama was just another president to me. I think he tried hard and I greatly respect his position in office, the man as a father and husband, positions on gay marriage and climate change but I definitely had my disagreements. I was also not a huge Hiliary fan. With all that said, you couldn't pay me to vote for someone so disrespectful to the office.
I marched because I believe leadership involves, first and foremost, maturity, respect for others and belief in the golden rule.
This administration is entirely different, however, in that republican conservatism no longer had its roots in fiscal responsibility. It suddenly became about this warped idea of white Christian patriotism and media conspiracy. You were either in or you were out. Conservative news, as well, became a propoganda machine.I had never seen anything like it before in my life but Republicans I have respected for years suddenly went from 'tough love' to ruthless. It's new indoctrination. And yet, when you have Bush's daughter, raising money for Planned Parenthood, you have to feel the apocalypse is coming. You know it is insane.
I marched because fiscal responsibility is a formidable opponent. Indoctrinated propaganda, fear mongering and a disregard for journalism is not.
Conservatives tend to say that they suffered under Obama and we need to get over it and liberals can't fathom why conservatives would vote for Trump. Clearly, there are huge disconnects. At the march, I was reminded of this HW Bush quote below. As a person that has spent more years conservative than not, the Republican party has always had a 'tough love' mentality about hand outs. The current 'drain the swamp' administration is a gross stretch from the 'kinder, gentler nation' of the Bush legacy. Even though I disagreed with the Bushes as well, I believed everyone, for the most part, was welcome to eat at the barbecue. Trump does take-out. When liberals are misty eyed about the Bush administration, you know serious lines have been crossed.
I marched because I believe in an inclusive kinder and gentler nation.
Looking back, one of the biggest disconnects as a Christian is this idea that God cares about what other people do. Biblically speaking, he doesn't. God only cares what YOU do and the choices YOU make. You're not going to be judged for the choices of someone else. You're going to be judged for your own choices. Per the constitution, if you are a human being in our country, you are to be considered equal. That means my gay friends should be able to marry and have equal rights as such. Their marriage truly does not effect you. You have no reason to be threatened. You still get to live your life as perfectly Christian or conservative as you want.
Before I go further, I also want to clarify that I know a lot of wonderful Christians that are sincere and loving people. I also know a lot of blinded, misguided people whose faith has become political rather than spiritual, whose love has become judgment over compassion. In my opinion, the need to feel safe with God politically rather than safe with God internally is leading people astray. The water is awfully muddy. This really concerns me.
If you believe that gay marriage will lead to a pandora's box of sin and the world going to hell in a hand basket, I would kindly ask that you-- pardon the franchise-- wake the fuck up. What has been done in the name of Christianity has literally brought hell to earth and massacred millions of people through war for 'God's glory.' And that's just one religion. Religious judgement alone would be the Guinness World's Record of hand baskets.
I would also like to ask how many involved in the decision making process have gay friends? Not gay friends like the one guy you know at work or the gay uncle you 'love' and tolerate but really pray for from a distance. Do you know any of their guts? Here's the secret... they're just people. And literally, the most welcoming group of people I've ever met. When you are constantly judged and told you're not supposed to exist, you're worthless in the eyes of your family and God, or that you're welcome but still going to hell, it makes you a hell of a welcoming motherfucker to other people because you know how it feels. God bless this community and everything they have been and have meant to me.
I am blessed to know a bunch of married gays. Two couples that have adopted and not one of them teaches their children to fuck goats! Amazing! They are wonderful parents and families. Because the gay community is truly a community, these kids are raised by a village of people that love them. It's beautiful. It's the most un-detrimental thing that could happen to a kid! And to say otherwise, means you really don't know what you're talking about. That's not to negate anyone's opinion, it just means you have no real history with these very real people. Because if you did, you would clearly say otherwise for your friends. Every day of the week.
I will march for my gay friends and these families until the day I die. Even the goat fuckers. ;)
I am so grateful to live in a place where people appreciate the land. I live in the swiss alps of the United States and whether or not people are Republican or Democrat, people want to protect the beauty. As a Christian, I never understood why conservatives fought so hard against climate change and protecting the environment. I heard all the time about God being an artist and creating the planet and yet we were constantly fighting so hard to shit on the artwork. Aside from God, common sense says don't you want to live someplace beautiful? Don't you want your kids to experience wildlife? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to appreciate beauty or a crisp, clean breath of fresh air... but we have to be right.
It's just so heartbreakingly obvious that our need to be right trumps common sense. In our valley, for the most part, we agree on this. There is probably so much more we could agree on if we weren't so white knuckled to talk to each other. The idea that Trump has gotten rid of laws protecting the environment or the partial dismantling of the EPA is just a level of non-sensical I can't comprehend. It is dumbfounding.
I will always march to protect the beauty of this earth. To be out in nature is to be in church.
I am proud that I have a great mix of friends-- colors, shapes, nationalities, religions. I'm sure living in Los Angeles, I worked with illegal immigrants. I have been lucky enough to travel and meet people different than me. At the end of the day, we all want to be with our families, worship who/what we want, put food on our table and laugh together. It is our government leaders and how were were raised that tell us we're different and pit us against each other.
The metaphor of building a wall is so obvious and unoriginal and yet here we are. We can do better than building walls. We can do better than ripping apart families. We can do better than allowing a rise in white supremacy, racism and prejudice. When it takes your president too long to say those hateful acts are vile and disgraceful, you've no reason to believe him when he finally gets around to saying it.
I marched for the interracial couples I know whose children have seen an increase in hateful acts and no one is protecting them. No one is even saying its wrong.
I marched because I believe reform doesn't need to be ruthless.
When I lived in Chicago, I would meet my positive and amazing friend ‘BF’ at a local cafe every Friday night to talk about our week. It was an incredibly challenging time of transition for both of us but that is what made the friendship so special. Like mad magicians, we would always energize each other into manifesting amazing things in our lives despite the scariness of the unknown.
On one particular occasion, however, we both showed up in a funk. The details have been wiped from my memory as to why we felt this way but it was such an unusual thing for us that it is a day I will never forget. After commiserating for a bit, BF suggested we take a walk. Despite the repulsively hot and sticky summer day, notorious to Chicago, I agreed.
We left the house and walked down the street. We talked. We were silent. We talked again. My make up fell down my face and my hair pasted itself to my forehead. My clothes stuck to my body like unwelcome bandaids, necessary and annoying. With each step, however, I began to feel relief. Something was changing as we made our way out of Lincoln Park. Unbeknownst to me, we were setting an intention. The cliche became painfully obvious. We were taking steps forward in action and literally walking away from feelings we couldn’t control.
I marched because sometimes it just feels good to take a step away from how you're feeling.
Our local paper ran an article about the upcoming march and the organizers quickly responded with a letter to the editor that read:
As organizers of the Women’s March in Twisp on Saturday (Jan. 21), we have to disagree with the first sentence of the article covering the marches in last week’s Methow Valley News. Actually, it is the first five words that are in our view incorrect: “Motivated by fear and anger … .” Our march and rally are explicitly to celebrate and support our highest values.
We firmly believe that the tenor of national politics has been dominated by extreme voices outshouting moderate viewpoints. There are many reasons for this, among them that it is so much fun to be outrageous, to violate — at no personal cost — the norms of respectful communication and, for far too many of us, to be willing consumers of the outrageous. So much more fun and entertaining than the thoughtful exchange of ideas. But it is also threatening our society and nation.
There is reason to be optimistic. In this valley we have a wide array of viewpoints and political alignments — but for the most part we generally like and respect each other. We get along; we treat each other as individuals, and do not take disagreements as equating to enmity; we help our neighbors regardless of their politics. We just had a local election that was positive, respectful and based on ideas for the right way forward in Okanogan County. Many communities across the country similarly share the values of decency and respect towards their neighbors.
Our march is a first step in bringing people together to work on extending that decency to national issues. It is based on the idea that the majority of Americans share values that we can — and will — come together to uphold. The rally will include compiling ideas on positive actions we can take to do our part to achieve a “more perfect union.” Every generation before us has faced this challenge; many of us believe that it is now our turn.
Finally, we want to emphasize that everyone is welcome to join our celebration of the ideals that make our country great. Hope to see you out there.
Lois Caswell, Linda Du Lac, Jane Hill, Gina McCoy, Pat Leigh, Monica Pettelle, Antonia Van Bueren
I marched because this letter, its optimism and inclusion, inspired me.
Shannon Huffman Polson was one of our speakers at the march. One of the things that struck me was when she said "This is a room full of people easy to love." The sentiment is that to fight for love is to be loving to all people and not just those we agree with.
I marched because I believe in this kind of love.
Our march rallied 600 people, which is pretty incredible for our little valley. It was a joyful and an exhilarating day. I am so honored to be a part of it. It was a celebration of our stories and lives that have so much value. We're humans first.
Quite frankly, this blog has taken months to write and the entire day to finish up. It isn't polished, it is wordy, scattered and all over the place. I'm not even sure I'm saying what I want to but don't think I'll ever get it to where I want it to be. So if anyone would like to nitpick it-- good luck with that! ;) I'm still going to post it in honor of Womens International Day. Thank you to all of the beautiful people in my life that have made me who I am and to the community that came out that day and continues to come out for the rights of people everywhere.
I will not live in fear. I feel called to tell stories. I am just one of many stories. I'd love to hear yours. xoxo.